Letters to Kafka

That “No Man’s Land” of anxiety

Dear Franz,

Well, two book events done, both to small crowds, but in fact I sold more books than I thought I would, and both evenings worked out well as little “vegan seminars” in a way, which is exciting. I feel as if I did actually have a bug, a bad stomach, which put me at odds with the night — but there’s a part of me that was… on the edge of embarrassment at so few people coming, as well as… unsure how to be with H, as usual.

There are two feelings that I really have to work on, in this work here with you and with my therapist. They are:

  • This childishness, or harshness, or helplessness I sink into with being with H — I lie in bed thinking would I be like this with another? Someone more mature? More motivated? Was I like this with M? or N? Did we ever have the time to find out? Either way my time with H is driven by these behaviours, and I feel our relationship is lacking, lacking, lacking… lacking what? Intellectual rigour? A meeting of minds? Similar intents? Confidence on both sides?

emotionally vagueI don’t know. I just don’t know. I am still stuck in that No Man’s Land of Anxiety in a) understanding it is my poor habits and repetitions that I need to break, by sticking with a relationship, and b) learning to understand, finally, what it means to be in a relationship, and by that finally getting the skills of being able to judge whether or not it is the right relationship to be in, or not… but things are still so clouded… It is complicated by not being ever able to know because I don’t act like an adult… like my best, or at least authentically relaxed, self, with H. Perhaps I do need to meditate after all — perhaps it is not all me — perhaps I need to take a step back and just perceive our and her behaviour too … perhaps, perhaps, perhaps…

  • The second behaviour or feeling I need to work on/at/through — I don’t know which — is this sense I get in the very heart of my body when I think of (re)starting to work on a novel… it is a terrifying, fearful burst of adrenaline that paralyses a part of my mind — the thought that “I can’t do this”, and I feel overwhelmed… and yet I have done it, now, numerous times (not to publication though; okay, okay, I hear you, Franz… but I will…)

It is that feeling of the five steps as one, and that the step is insurmountable. But one just needs to break it down into five steps, or micro goals, or a thousand, in fact like this, Franz, like this work. I write every day, small bits, that might add up to something. I break it down, literally, each day, and by diving the page too, by drawing a line down one side, giving myself a margin, and saying I will write to the end of the page, write to you, a little, each day, each available day, and talk, and progress, and work things out.


About Alex R Lockwood

I learn as much about the the art of living through literature (especially Kafka) as I do through other people. I read and write fiction and non-fiction, and research the cultural value of the creative writer; the ways that literature impacts our lives; the craft of writing, particularly what it means to be a non-anthropocentric (vegan) writer; the representation of animals; and the ethics of human-animal relations in literature, media and culture since 1945. This site is a platform for capturing the threads of different literary projects and, I hope, offers something to those thinking through the value of reading and writing in their lives.

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